The University of New Mexico selected its first Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows recently. The recipients for the the 2015-2017 cohort of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program include: Amber Lopez, Kalila Bohsali, Melissa Auh, Nina Raby and Shayanah Chiaramonte.

MMUF is the centerpiece of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. The program was named for Benjamin E. Mays, a distinguished African American educator, social activist, sociologist, minister and president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. from 1940 to 1967. He was also a mentor to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Last year, the Mellon Foundation invited UNM to join the consortium of undergraduate institutions, plus the United Negro College Fund and Claremont Consortia. Forty six institutions participate in the MMUF program, including Duke, Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

The recipients
Amber Lopez is a sophomore double-majoring in linguistics and music, and minoring in philosophy. Her current interests within linguistics include morphology and lexicology, as well as sociolinguistic variation. Her current interests within music are in performance and ethnomusicology. In her spare time she tutors adult literacy, and works as a teacher’s aide. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive linguistics.

“Being chosen for the Mellon Mays Fellowship is my opportunity to help others who may not envision themselves in an academic setting because of their background or circumstances,” Lopez said.

Kalila Bohsali is an undergraduate student, double majoring in literature and French, with a minor in Arabic.

“The Mellon Mays Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for the future of my education as well as for my current research on the poetics of identity and misrepresentation. I am so excited to learn how poetry and place leads to the creation of identity, and look forward to the opportunities the Fellowship will allow me to pursue my dream as an educator,” Bohsali said.

Melissa Auh is a political science major, studying the inequalities and potential improvements in the education system. In 2014, she was selected as a student panelist during the Domenici Public Policy Conference, which offers students a rare opportunity to speak with the men and women who help shape national policy.

“Being named a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow has given me direction, confidence and support to research, write, teach and present at a post-secondary level – opportunities I would have never thought possible for myself,” Auh said.

Nina Raby is pursuing a double major in classics and mathematics with a minor in medieval studies. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2017 and then pursue a doctoral degree in classics. Her current research interests include Roman epic and elegiac poetry, mathematics and religion in Ancient Greece and Rome, classical influences on the medieval world and early Christianity, and classical archaeology.

“Being selected as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow means that I have been granted both the privilege and the responsibility of being an advocate and a mentor, and of being able to pursue the study of those subjects that I am most passionate about. Being a part of this program will allow me the space to improve the skills that will be vital to my future in academia, and to develop into a more conscientious scholar and a more positive contributor to my local community,” Raby said.

Shayanah Chiaramonte is currently a criminology and psychology major, with a minor in honors. She will pursue a PhD in sociology. She is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma women's fraternity, National Society of Leadership and Success, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Bloomsbury Honor International and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

“I am greatly honored to have been selected to be a Fellow. Beyond being a fantastic opportunity that will allow me to hone my skills and experience new things, it is the philosophy of life that I'm thrilled to be part of. What the Mellon Mays Fellowship Program stands for is extraordinary, and I aspire to be worthy of carrying the name and fulfilling our common goal,” Chiaramonte said.

For additional information about the fellowship, visit MMUF program or email